Niagara Gazette — Instant replay may not have changed the outcome of last Tuesday’s spirited softball game at Niagara-Wheatfield, but what did happen will influence Base Paths’ thoughts on technological tinkering.
Kenmore West was cruising toward a 5-2 victory over the Falcons in this pairing of Niagara Frontier League unbeatens. With two out, nobody on in the seventh, Base Paths abandoned his prime seat to prep for post-game interviews.
But Wheatfield suddenly loaded the bases without swinging a bat – there’d been just one walk in the game through six – and up stepped Joltin’ Nikki Jacobs, who’d been duking it out all afternoon with her future UB teammate, West’s all-star pitcher Charlotte Miller. In the second Jacobs had lined a game-stopping shot off Miller directly into the hands of the first-base infielder, and now she had a chance at a walk-off grand slam.
From Base Paths’ angled, screened viewpoint, it appeared Miller had wild-pitched behind Jacobs, a run coming in, but the plate blue called “time,” having seen it as a hit-by-pitch, and the scoreboard switched to 5-3. The two umpires then conferred, agreed that the ball had missed Jacobs after all, but since time had been called, there was no recourse but to return the runners, re-load the bases and revert the score to 5-2.
Except for opening up first base (might West have then walked Jacobs, even though she carried the potential winning run?), this had minimal effect on the outcome and the girls went back to work. Somehow, what should have been even more distraction instead re-focused Miller, who re-located the strike zone and finally retired Jacobs with the aid of a shoetop catch by centerfielder Adriana King just behind second base.
In other words, all the players involved shrugged off the effects of an inevitably upsetting call, went about their business and finished the game. The call, correct but unjust, seemed to elevate them all. Sounds like an argument against replay.